Developed By: Limit Break Categories: Shoot-em-up, Retro Release Date: 07.09.2020
As an American, I don’t exactly have any nostalgia towards the Commodore Amiga, however I always been a fan of the shoot-em-up genre. At first look, I assumed 1993 Shenandoah was a loving tribute to Amiga games. It looked the part, it sounded the part, it even had the jank a lot of 90’s European games had. Upon further research into the game, it turns out it was actually independently developed for the system back in the 90’s, and subsequently shelved. Now almost thirty years after it was planned for release, it’s been updated a bit and released on the Nintendo Switch.
27 YEARS LATER
It says a lot to the quality of a game when you can pull it to present day from nearly thirty years before and it both looks and sounds like it could be a more recent title, the mid the late 90’s were a really spectacular time for sprite artwork. To get it out of the way, the entire game has that European feel that any Amiga game would have, from the spritework, even to mechanics in the gameplay. While this honestly doesn’t bother me too badly in 1993 Shenandoah, it’s something many people seem to take issue with, and if it causes that much of a problem, they might as well skip the title. The gameplay as you start is almost as basic as shooters go as can be, with a single button to shoot, and a single button to drop a screen clearing bomb. Before even choosing one of the five (with a final boss sixth stage, and a seventh challenge level unlocked after beating the game), you’re in a shop deciding which ship to play as, remember this shop as you’re going to want to go back throughout the game.
In lieu of a life bar, or even one hit deaths, 1993 Shenandoah has a rotatable shield. Shots that hit the shield will temporarily take part of your cover away, but getting hit anywhere else will permanently take part of your shield away. Once that’s gone, any hit will kill you. Stages all have their own obstacles and enemies, some of which are not advisable with just the default. You’re bound to make enough money to get side arms for your ship, some that drop bombs, some that shoot backwards, a laser gun, a spread gun, or even an incredibly expensive giant canon. You can also get stronger ships with vastly different stats, a bigger shield or more speed are things to look out for. While the cheaper ships can only carry two side arms, the more expensive ships can carry four. These upgrades all help you and can mostly plow though the game, but depending on the stage and what weapons you have, there are just some enemies you cannot destroy, which you would have never known without playing a stage before. This may come with the territory from being a near thirty year old game, but it leaves a sour taste, and even other shooters at the time from Konami, Irem, or Taito didn’t pull this, despite at the end of the day being more challenging. This almost comes off as a way to make the game have more replayable, and while it does, it feels lik a cheap way to do so and it probably the biggest flaw of the title. Thankfully, I don’t find this to be a huge flaw, while having the wrong loadout with no way of knowing which is the right one at first, you’re never at such a disadvantage to make stages unwinnable.
If you’re a big fan of games from the Amiga, or just like shoot-em-ups, and don’t mind a few flaws, you’ll find a fun little time capsule and the game is most definitely aimed at you. As someone interested in the art of game preservation, the fact a a game that was considered lost for nearly three decades found the light of day is enough for me to keep even somewhat of an interest in it.
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*Game Download Code provided for review purposes